Friday, 5 February 2010

Pakistan army harass Deputy Commissioner in Azad Kashmir

Pakistan army harass Deputy Commissioner in Azad Kashmir
Dr Shabir Choudhry 05 February 2010

Once again Pakistan army has demonstrated that they are the real masters of Kashmiri territory under their control; and that they are not accountable to anyone for their actions. It is they who call shots in this region and there is no law which is applicable to them.

Pakistan army behaves like an army of occupation although at times they try to pretend to be ‘defenders’ of this territory. They commit human rights abuses and are never held accountable for anything; because unlike on the other side of Line of Control where every human rights abuse is reported and flashed in media, no one even dares to report anything against Pakistani soldiers on this side of the LOC.

Neelam Valley and other areas near the Line of Control suffer most, and because of the prevailing situation - fear of army reprisals and fear of being arrested and imprisoned on fake charges of being an ‘Indian agent’ force people to remain quiet and take every abuse with a smile on their faces.

Deputy Commissioner is a very senior civilian position in any district, but even a senior civilian is not spared by the Pakistani army in Pakistani Administered Kashmir known as Azad Kashmir. On 4th February 2010 at around 10 am, a Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Shahid Ayub, was manhandled by few soldiers of Pakistan army in Neelam Valley.

According to details emanating from the Neelam Valley, Mr. Shahid Ayub along with his staff was on his routine journey to Sharda from Athmuqam, district headquarters. When he reached Keran, just 15 kilometers from Athmuqam, he was stopped by the Pakistan army soldiers by putting up barriers on the Neelam road.

The soldiers treated him disrespectfully and demanded to know who he was. The Deputy Commissioner and his staff pointed to the AJK flag hoisting on his vehicle and told them that he was a Deputy Commissioner of the District. Only senior officers, President, Prime Minister and Ministers could hoist the flag of Azad Kashmir on their vehicles.

The soldiers laughed at him and said, ‘They don't care for any kind of Deputy Commissioner, or any flag; and that they were the masters of the area’. They said it is their law and their order which is implemented here. The soldiers verbally abused the Deputy Commissioner in front of his staff with guns pointing at him from both sides of his vehicle. They also threatened to shoot him on site if he tried to move from there without their permission.

The helpless Deputy Commissioner of so called Azad Kashmir, called Azad Kashmir police force for help, but they were unable to save their boss from the humiliation by soldiers of Pakistan army.

It is also pertinent to mention that the Deputy Commissioner has been in charge of the District for some months, and he is well known in the area and to the soldiers stationed at the Keran Check Post. It is not that the soldiers didn’t know who he was, but they wanted to demonstrate that it is they who call shots in this region and not a Kashmiri Deputy Commissioner. They wanted to send a message to all concerned that they must learn to abide by orders of the men in khaki and respect them.

The check post where this incident occurred is right across Keran village, which is under Indian control; and is divided by Neelam River. The Indian army must have witnessed this incident, and they must now know what azadi or freedom people of Jammu and Kashmir enjoy on the other side of the incident.

This humiliating treatment was experienced by a senior Civilian Officer of AJK; and even the Azad Kashmir police could not help him. Just imagine what kind of treatment would be available to ordinary, simple and illiterate people living in those villages in the Neelam Valley and along the LOC.

The man who informed me of this incident said under the terms of Provisional Accession which took place on October 1947, it was a duty of the Indian army to protect life, property and dignity of all citizens of the Jammu and Kashmir State. But unfortunately we suffer on both sides of the divide to varying degrees; and no one seems to be concerned about our plight. It hurts us more to note that despite all the suffering and sacrifices the Kashmir dispute is still perceived as a dispute between India and Pakistan.

This incident happened one day before the so called ‘solidarity with Kashmir day’- annual holiday people of Pakistan enjoy in our name. 5th of February has no significance in history of Jammu and Kashmir; and yet for past some years they have started holding a holiday to express their solidarity with Kashmiris.

This holiday or solidarity day is not based on sincerity or goodwill. The policy makers of Pakistan are fooling people of Pakistan and people of Jammu and Kashmir. There is a big discrepancy in their words and deeds. When a situation comes to show solidarity with people of Jammu and Kashmir or to protect their interests, policy makers of Pakistan turn a blind eye to that; and only promote a Pakistani interest at the cost of a Kashmiri interest.

They never demand or even agree that people of Jammu and Kashmir should be part of the dialogue process on Kashmir. What right have they got to negotiate with India on our behalf? To us they are occupiers just like India and China are; and no occupier has this right to decide future of our motherland.

Their aim is to hold this display of ‘solidarity’ one week before the national day people of Jammu and Kashmir hold on 11 February to commemorate martyrdom of their leader Maqbool Butt who advocated an independent and secular Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistani policy makers spend huge amount of money to undermine functions of Kashmiris which they voluntarily hold on 11 February.

If Pakistan really wants to show solidarity with people of Jammu and Kashmir then they should grant full political and economic rights to people under their control. They should withdraw their army and their officers from Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. Furthermore, they should work hard on 5th February and donate one day salary to suffering people of Jammu and Kashmir.

It must be noted that people uprooted by upraising of Mangla Dam and affected by the earth quake have not been housed. They are still suffering in tents without appropriate shelters and means to live. The best way to show solidarity would be to resettle these people with dignity and honour. If Pakistani policy makers have no will to do that, then please stop rubbing salt in our wounds.

Writer is Head of Diplomatic Committee of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.

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Anonymous said...

It is a matter of great displeasure that we, the ordinary persons of Pakistan, are held hostage by our own army. These acts of transgression have proved that army considers itself above law, repudiating & dismantling everything that comes in its way. Look at the fetid system,LGS 2001, made by a smutty general to prolong his own stolid rule.

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